So I’m here mulling over the summer which seems to be strangely slipping away. Our school district starts classes up really early, so we tend to do mental “fall” while many long hot Arizona summer days still stretch out before us.
How was your Fourth of July? I’ve got to say, ours was just kind of “ho-hum”. Only ‘kind of’ because thankfully nothing is really “ho-hum” with little people aged 3.5 and 1.5, right? 🙂
I love where I live, don’t get me wrong. This desert place really does sing to my soul. But around that certain holiday every single year, I find myself surprised at my fierce yearning for my old hometown.
You see, my hometown went all out for the Fourth of July. I know I didn’t fully appreciate it in my youth, but now that I have kids of my own, I view it differently. I want to teach about the significance of Independence Day and share in the excitement that points to our nation’s unique origin. I know that the community celebrations and all day festivities there would really help emphasize the day (plus they are a lot of fun!).
It’s not that people out here aren’t patriotic. They really are. They love this country for all the freedom, diversity, and independence she affords.
It’s not Tucson’s fault. There are just some daunting obstacles to that traditional “day and night in the park” experience that I grew up with. There is the geographic metropolitan sprawl, the relative lack of large grassy gathering areas, the slightly more shallow revolutionary roots, and oh yeah- the threat of wildfire that often (rightfully so) warrants cancellation of the fireworks.
This year, I happened to be off work and was determined to show the girls a good time. We loaded our little camp chairs and headed to the convention center to watch the fireworks show on “A- mountain.” After about two hours of trying to keep them safe and nourished in an (expensive) parking lot with many moving vehicles, we did “ooh and ahh” at some far away pyrotechnics. But sadly, the big girl’s sequined crown and sparkly band-aid were the most festive things around.
So I remember Frederick’s Fourth, kicking off in the morning with a 5K fun run. The bands playing all day. The bathtub races in the lake. The face-painting, street vendors, pies, barbecue and chili cook offs. The old streets (some pre-dating the original day) sporting fresh red, white, and blue flags and decorations.
Nostalgia has me thinking of backyard get-togethers. Grandparents and toddlers, teenagers and their parents. I drool remembering large picnic tables covered in newsprint. People gathered around- bashing and picking sweet little Maryland blue crabs. Scents of Old Bay seasoning, swilling beer, and buttery corn on the cob. Kids squealing as they dive on slip and slides, eat watermelon, and rinse off in sprinklers.
And then as the sun dips lower, the people converge downtown with blankets and chairs to claim a prize viewing spot. Together, they enjoy the fireworks show set to the patriotic tunes played by a big brass band.
I remember it all as so magical. It wasn’t perfect, but it was community. I’m dreaming of a year when I share that town with my kids. Hope the reality holds up…
In the meantime, I would love to hear your local recommendations. Maybe we just haven’t found the right spot here in the Old Pueblo… where do you go?